March 18th, 2009
10:16 AM ET
13 years ago

Obama tells visiting president: I’m a little bit Irish, too

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/17/art.getty.obama.cowen.jpg caption="President Obama said he could be related to the Irish Prime Minister."]
(CNN) – Everybody’s a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but President Obama said Tuesday he could lay legitimate claim to that status — and might even have a long-lost link to that nation’s current leader.

It isn’t blarney: An ancestor of the president hailed from the Emerald Isle. While meeting with Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen at the White House on Tuesday, Obama took the chance to recognize his Irish roots, speculating on whether the two men might be distant kin.

“So before I turn it over to Taoiseach” - the Irish leader’s official title - “it turns out we have something in common,” Obama said. “He hails from county Offaly ,and it was brought to my attention on the campaign that my great-great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side came to America from a small village in this county as well. We are still speculating on whether we are related.”

Related: O'Bama's White House celebrates St. Patrick's Day

Cowen laughed and said after checking into the matter, he found that the two are not related.

“I just wanted to say that I have checked and unfortunately there are no Kearneys on the electoral register anymore in my electoral district,” Cowen said. “But if there were, I can assure you, I’d have them on my campaign team.”

On the campaign trail last year, Obama — perhaps looking for a little luck of the Irish in the midst of the epic Democratic primary battle - noted on St. Patrick’s Day that his great-great-great-grandfather Falmouth Kearney hailed from Ireland.

“My family's story is familiar to Irish Americans: a distant homeland, a journey across an ocean in search of opportunity, a determination to grab hold of hope. Another reason why the story might be familiar is that it turns out I have Irish heritage,” Obama said a year ago in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “I actually have a great-grandfather who came from Ireland and settled nearby in Ohio.”


Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    oh great ! Now we must be all Irish too. Just add Fitzpatrick or nickname Paddy. Too bad Sasha and Malia missed a generation of blue eyes.

    March 17, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  2. Soccer Nana

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with President Obama acknowledging his familial roots (it is also a great ice breaker). Because his parents are White American and Kenyan, he has several branches of family roots. He identifies more with Black Americans, because outside of his mother's immediate family, Black Americans accepted him more readily.

    @ Barbara,

    And he is able to truthfully say he has no slavery lineage, as his father was Kenyan and his mother was White.

    Here's another clue, since God is our Father; that would make Jesus Obama's brother as well as yours and mine.

    March 17, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  3. Cali Girl

    Marc in Virginia March 17th, 2009 4:34 pm ET

    Obama. Picking and choosing his race whenever it suits him politically. I didn't hear you were Irish when you were in NC, VA, and many other southern states
    _______________________________________________________

    What? Why would he have to tell you he's Irish when visiting your southern states?

    March 17, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  4. Kristin>>>IRISH!!!

    Of course he's Irish. I'm not surprised one bit. We are great people. Used to hard work. Had to fight to get where we are today. We were once looked upon in this country as the dirty Irish. Had to fight for our jobs. We worked the crappriest of jobs but did it with our heads held high. Went home to our families proud of ourselves. HAPPY ST.PATRICKS DAY!!!!!

    March 17, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  5. Cali Girl

    deb0155 March 17th, 2009 4:41 pm ET

    What a lot of malarchy! This guy ran his campaign as the "first African-American" and now on St. Patrick's Day – he's Irish!

    It only goes to show you that these politicians will do or say anything!
    _______________________________________________________

    If his great, great, great Grandfather was from Ireland, then he's got Irish blood, whether you can comprehend it or not .

    March 17, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  6. Robin in Washington

    What fun. When I first heard his name I had thought "cool, an Irish candidate" (I'm Irish) I thought it was O'Bama. LOL. Turns out he is!

    March 17, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  7. CCrellin

    He looks Irish to me, like other Irish Americans such as Shaquille O'Neal...

    March 17, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  8. Cynthia - Arkansas

    We're all just a mixture of different races, or we wouldn't be here at all. Our ancesters were all immigrants. Unless you're Native American, and even then probably by degrees. I'm Irish, English and Native American. And that's just what I know about!

    March 17, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  9. Nick

    I AM Kenyan and Irish too!

    March 17, 2009 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  10. ib

    Please Obama do not insult the Irish you've already insulted enough people.

    March 17, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  11. laughing@theGOP

    isn't it great to have a really cool President... love it..

    March 17, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  12. Jane

    Is his wife Irish. Did she resent that remark? He is about as Irish as I am. He can't even stay true to who he is.

    March 17, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  13. Jerry in Florida

    This guy (your president) has no shame. What ever works to his advantage and the continued railroading of America. On Thanksgiving Day, I wonder if he will conveniently say he's related to "turkeys". And of course, anything to distract from the real issues affecting our country.

    Stay tuned!

    March 17, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  14. laughing@theGOP

    aren't we all a little bit of everything?

    March 17, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  15. carol

    If he is Irish he is Irish and should be proud of that for those who are complaining almost about everything!!

    March 17, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  16. Anne

    Shooky...now THAT was clever!
    I wish more of us could lighten up.

    March 17, 2009 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  17. hmmm

    obama is 3% irish for all your idiots wanting to know

    March 17, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  18. Chill, dude

    Travis, dude, chill out and have a beer. sheesh!

    Obama is an American. That means that, like most Americans, his heritage has little bit of everything. That was kind of the point of us coming here ...

    March 17, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  19. Cindy Mc7of9

    he's never denied his roots on either side. we ALL knew he was a little bit of this and a little bit of that. that's why most of us love him! he's never kept any ethnic side of him secret.

    March 17, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  20. Lisa

    Yeah, and Obama is also part American Indian with a dash of Hispanic and a splash of Dutch.

    March 17, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  21. M. Rapture

    Yeah.....an Irish Jig!

    March 17, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  22. Chicago Southside Irish

    God bless him

    March 17, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  23. risa

    aaron i want one of those shirts lol

    March 17, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  24. G

    What's the big deal he said he was a little bit irish, you would think he said he was descesant from Jesus or something the way people are reacting on this board lol.

    March 17, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  25. Penn Voter

    He should apologize to all of the real Irish.

    March 17, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
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